Libs may think twice about cutting the defense budget when they hear about this.
Forget about the Halls of Montezuma and, for sure, the shores of Tripoli. What better use of a few good men and women than babysitting turtles?
There are about 500 “threatened” tortoises living in the Mojave Desert. The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms is engaged in The Desert Tortoise Head-Start Facility project to protect the young tortoises from predators. It’s a $100,000 a year program funded by the Defense Department.
The slow-growing tortoises may need a year or more before they’re big enough to be released into the desert.
The tortoise is threatened by development, off-road vehicles, disease and predators, especially ravens. Tortoise experts say that more than 90 percent of young tortoises, whose shells are soft, fail to reach maturity.
Every Marine training at Twentynine Palms gets a video lecture about the animals, and troops are warned to halt training and notify the range master when a tortoise is spotted.
To avoid attracting ravens, Marines at the 600,000-acre base must pick up food litter and make sure that trash cans have raven-proof lids. Anti-raven pamphlets titled “Invasion of the Tortoise Snatchers” are handed out.
“If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never get where you want,” said Marie Cottrell, natural and cultural resources officer for the base.
Other Mojave Desert military bases also have preservation projects.